Real Risks You Need To Know Before Investing In Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (HKG:1398)

As a HK$2.1t market capitalisation bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (HKG:1398) is well-positioned to benefit from the improving credit quality as a result of post-GFC recovery. Economic growth fuels demand for loans and affects a borrower’s ability to repay which directly impacts the level of risk Industrial and Commercial Bank of China takes on. As a consequence of the GFC, tighter regulations have led to more conservative lending practices by banks, leading to more prudent levels of risky assets on their balance sheets. It is relevant to understand a bank’s level of risky assets on its accounts as it affects the attractiveness of its stock as an investment. Today I will be taking you through three metrics that are useful proxies for risk.

See our latest analysis for Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

SEHK:1398 Historical Debt December 12th 18
SEHK:1398 Historical Debt December 12th 18

How Much Risk Is Too Much?

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is considered to be in a good financial shape if it does not engage in overly risky lending practices. So what constitutes as overly risky? Loans that cannot be recuperated by the bank, also known as bad loans, should typically form less than 3% of its total loans. When these loans are not repaid, they are written off as expenses which comes directly out of the bank’s profit. With a ratio of 1.57%, the bank faces an appropriate level of bad loan, indicating prudent management and an industry-average risk of default.

How Good Is Industrial and Commercial Bank of China At Forecasting Its Risks?

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s forecasting and provisioning accuracy for its bad loans indicates it has a strong understanding of its own risk levels. If the bank provisions for more than 100% of the bad debt it actually writes off, then it is considered to be relatively prudent and accurate in its bad debt provisioning. Given its high bad loan to bad debt ratio of 173.06% Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has cautiously over-provisioned 73.06% above the appropriate minimum, indicating a safe and prudent forecasting methodology, and its ability to anticipate the factors contributing to its bad loan levels.

How Big Is Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s Safety Net?

Handing Money Transparent Industrial and Commercial Bank of China operates by lending out its various forms of borrowings. Customers’ deposits tend to carry the smallest risk given the relatively stable interest rate and amount available. The general rule is the higher level of deposits a bank holds, the less risky it is considered to be. Since Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s total deposit to total liabilities is very high at 91% which is well-above the prudent level of 50% for banks, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China may be too cautious with its level of deposits and has plenty of headroom to take on risker forms of liability.

Next Steps:

The recent acquisition is expected to bring more opportunities for 1398, which in turn should lead to stronger growth. I would stay up-to-date on how this decision will affect the future of the business in terms of earnings growth and financial health. I’ve bookmarked 1398’s company page on Simply Wall St to stay informed with changes in outlook and valuation. This is also the source of data for this article. The three main sections I’d recommend you check out are:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for 1398’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for 1398’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is 1398 worth today? Has the future growth potential already been factored into the price? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether 1398 is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at